April 20, 2012

Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative Pronouns are pronouns which are used to form questions.

For instance, consider the following examples:

वह कौन है – Who is he?

अंजलि किस के पास खड़ी हुई है – Who is Anjali standing beside?

यह क्या है – What is this?

तुम क्या कर रहे हो – What are you doing?

Personal Interrogative Pronouns

The personal interrogative pronoun in Hindi is कौन. It is equivalent to the english interrogative pronoun “who”. In the oblique singular, it is किस, and in the oblique plural it is किन.

Hindi Personal Interrogative Pronoun
Direct Case Oblique Singular Oblique Plural
कौन किस किन

Note that the form of the interrogative pronoun is the same in the singular and plural for the direct case, but it is different for the oblique case.

Consider the following examples:

वे लोग कौन हैं – Who are those people?

किस के साथ जाने वाले हो – Who are you going to go with?

किन की बात कर रहे हैं – Who (plural) are they talking about?

Just as personal pronouns, the personal interrogative pronoun has alternative forms when used as the object of the postposition को.

Alternative Forms of कौन + को
Number With को With को (alternative)
Singular किसको किसे
Plural किनको किन्हें

Impersonal Interrogative Pronoun

The impersonal interrogative pronoun in Hindi is क्या.

Consider the following examples:

यह क्या है – What is this?

उसका नाम क्या है – What is her name?

Hindi writers often assimilate the punctuation marks of English, so questions in written Hindi may employ the question mark (“?”) as in English. However, in written Hindi, the presence of the interrogative is enough to signal a question. This is different than English, which often relies on word order to distinguish questions from statements.

In spoken Hindi, generally a rising intonation of the voice indicates a question, as does context.

The form of a question in Hindi is not necessarily distinct from the form of a statement. A question may lack interrogative words. Context and vocal intonation will decide whether a sentence is a question or a statement.

  • M Sewlall

    Hi David,
    Does the impersonal interrogative pronoun “क्या” has an oblique form? If yes, what is it?


    • Yes, indeed; you may use the form किस as in किस में, e.g.: “किस में डालूं” – “what should I put (it) in?”